Talen Horton-Tucker has put in some major work this offseason, evident by the Los Angeles Lakers guard’s thinned-out look at the Dreamville Chi-League Pro-Am.
Horton-Tucker said at the end of the season that he wanted to stay in better shape and he appears to be doing that with some work in various summer leagues. And this one in his hometown went better than his Drew League debut, which he scored just three points in.
“Being more aware off-ball is something I can do, just watching a lot of film and things like that. So I feel like I’m doing the right things, and just trying to keep my body in shape is something that I could do better also,” Horton-Tucker said in his exit press conference when asked about what he wanted to improve on this offseason.
Seeing a thinned-out version of Horton-Tucker drew a positive reaction from the Lakers faithful.
Horton-Tucker Called Return to Lakers ‘No-Brainer’
Horton-Tucker is fresh off signing a three-year, $32 million deal to return to the Lakers — not bad for the former second-round pick who drew interest from other teams around the league.
In 65 games last season, Horton-Tucker averaged 9.0 points (45.8 FG%), 2.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 20.1 minutes per game. Horton-Tucker scored in double figures 27 times last season and tallied four double-doubles.
The Lakers had to splurge a bit to keep THT on the roster but there was a mutual interest to keep him in purple and gold.
“I feel like it was a no-brainer just to come back where I started and just kind of run it back,” Horton-Tucker told reporters earlier this month. “I want to win a championship… so being around this group of guys that we have is going to be a plus for me.”
“I was pretty focused on trying to get back here, he added. “I just wanted to make it an emphasis to come back, so I was happy that we were able to get it done.”
Horton-Tucker Provides Valuable Youth For Lakers
The Lakers clearly think very highly of Horton-Tucker, refusing to trade him last season and making sure to bring him back as a restricted free agent. And the best part is that Horton-Tucker is only 20 years old, so he can be a valuable piece going forward.
The Lakers drew some criticism this offseason for driving up their average age by signing older free agents like Carmelo Anthony (37), Trevor Ariza (36) and Dwight Howard (35). However, the team has already responded to the “old” talk multiple times — LeBron James doing it in a tweet and Anthony while speaking directly with the media.
“We don’t care,” Anthony told reporters. “We don’t care. We make our own narrative.
“I like when people talk about the age. It gives a better story. I think it gives a better story. I think people forget, at the end of the day, it’s about basketball. You got to know how to play basketball. You got to have that experience. I think that’s what we bring at this point and time. Our talent, our skill, but also our experience.”